Did European Championships inspire you – or your kids – to glide gracefully across a glossy frozen surface? Does a Servette match make you want to race around at top speed, turning and stopping on a dime? Geneva is a great place to ice skate! We are fortunate to have 3 permanent municipal rinks, 2 with attached outdoor ice, that offer public skating from October through March, and numerous free seasonal outdoor rinks that pop up around the Canton from November through March.
And skating is not expensive recreation. No specialty gear is necessary to get started, but be sure to take gloves, pants that dry quickly (everybody falls!), and tall socks. If you get more serious, there are gel-lined ankle sleeves sold in skate shops or online that will make your rental experience much more comfortable. Ultimately, you’ll want your own skates and blades (sold separately), but we’re getting way ahead of ourselves.
When you want to learn some smoother moves, don’t hesitate to consider lessons, no matter what your age – skating is for big kids too! The big rinks will offer both group and private classes, and the group sessions are usually held in the evening. Skating lessons will require a club membership at the rink of your choice, but with membership, you get an extended season of August-April and free public session access in some. While you may never make the Olympic team or play in the NHL, you’ll have a lot of fun, burn a ton of calories, and improve your posture and balance. Skating is a life sport that you can enjoy as long as you want to pursue it, and the more skills you have, the more fun it becomes.
I belong to the Club des Patineurs de Genève (CPG) at Vernets, but have tried out all of the indoor rinks. Each one is distinctive and has its own appeal, but if you’re going to be a rink rat, it’s nice if the rink is close by.
Patinoire des Vernets
Located across the Hans Wilsdorf bridge from Plainpalais, this is home ice for Geneva’s pro hockey team, the Servettes, whom you may meet on game day in the locker room. Most public sessions are held in the big indoor rink, but there is a covered outdoor rink as well, which is mainly used for private lessons and hockey. Schedules and prices can be found on the city web site: http://www.ville-geneve.ch/plan-ville/sports/patinoire-vernets/ and you’ll need to provide your own lock for the free locker. Parking during the week is scarce, the TPG is recommended.
If you are interested in lessons, the CPG can be contacted through its website http://www.cpgeneve.com/ . CPG has a coaching staff that has trained several European (and World) champions, so you may run across some of those downstairs as well.
Patinoire du CS Sous Moulin
If you ever cross the border at Vallard, you’ve driven past this lovely sunlit ice rink in Thônex. Excellent for relaxed skating in a family atmosphere, public is lightly attended during the week, but crowded on Sunday afternoons with lots of small children – fine for debutants. They even have a separate facility for curling, if that’s your passion. Located next to the P+R Sous Moulin, parking is plentiful, but it is also very well connected with the TPG network. For more information, they have a nice website as well: http://www.cssm.ch/fr/horaires.html . Lockers are available, but you can leave your shoes under the benches.
The skating club at Sous Moulin is called Club des Patineurs Trois-Chêne, and they have a helpful website : http://www.cp3chene.ch/ to inform you about lessons and programs.
Patinoire des Vergers Meyrin
This rink is a long haul for me, but if you live on the Rive Droite, or work at CERN, or hang out at the airport, it’s fantastic. A beautiful layout with indoor and outdoor facilities in the middle of the fields, everybody recommends Meyrin. For a good look at this unique location, see their website: http://www.meyrin.ch/jahia/Jahia/administration/sports/pid/680 . For hockey enthusiasts, public hockey is offered every day except Wednesday. With 2 rinks available to the public (except during hockey times), you can enjoy a variety of experiences with one admission. There are 2 parking lots and 4 TPG lines for access, notably tram 14 from Belair. Here also, you should bring a lock to secure any valuables.
The Meyrin skating club website offers the necessary information on joining and classes at http://cpam.ch/ .
Unfortunately, all of these rinks are closed even to members from May through July, but rinks in Annecy, La Clusaz, Megève, Saint Gervais, and Chamonix are open at various times during the summer months to maintain those skills. The rink at La Clusaz is even outdoors, which is pretty unusual. Until mid June, Annecy offers Adult group lessons at noon on Tuedays and Fridays to anyone who shows up.
Seasonal Outdoor Rinks
In addition to the permanent facilities, there are around 6 seasonal rinks that appear in various squares and parks in communities all over Geneva. They are typically free, charge only CHF 2 for skate rental, and gloves are required. Many of you are probably familiar with the rink in Parc des Bastions and the Carouge rink in Place de Sardaigne with its cool Ice Bar, but in 2015 there are also outdoor surfaces in Grand Saconnex, Lancy, Plan-les-Ouates, and Charmilles. This very helpful website has the complete list: http://www.decouvrir-geneve.com/piscines-patinoires-plages/ . These neighborhood rinks offer a great introduction to skating and often have numerous special events and presentations for kids of all ages.
So make a resolution to try out one of Geneva’s most fun and physical pastimes! But beware, it can become addicting. I started taking my daughter to skating lessons in 1994, tried it myself, and have been hooked ever since.
This post is authored by B, an AIWC member who is obsessed with history, languages, and winter sports. Read her previous post for Living in Geneva, A History of Carouge, Part Five: Post Tenebrus Lux, here.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/
Barbara Manning said:
Thanks for this very helpful article. Do you happen to know if there are any youth synchronized skating teams in the Geneva area?
Barbara, let me pass on your question to our member who wrote this article and I will get back to you.
Dear Barbara, our in-house skater responded : “While popular in France, I don’t think synchro has ever really gotten established in Switzerland. There just aren’t enough participants and the focus is almost totally on individuals – I don’t think there are very many kids in dance or pairs either. It seems that the closest club with synchro is Lyon. It just takes a big population to reach critical mass for the group disciplines. Except hockey!”
Thanks so much for the general synchro information and the Lyon suggestion. It looks like there’s also a small team in Lausanne, so we can investigate that as well. Thanks!